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Golden Mouth: The Story of John Chrysostom--Ascetic, Preacher, Bishop [Paperback]

By J. N. D. Kelly (Author)
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Item description for Golden Mouth: The Story of John Chrysostom--Ascetic, Preacher, Bishop by J. N. D. Kelly...

"No other author has delved so deeply into the life and work of this complex, influential, and tragic figure of the fourth century and produced such a far-ranging but precise, solidly researched, and eminently readable account. . . . Chrysostom emerges as a sympathetic and tragic figure of great integrity, whose human failings contributed and perhaps led to his downfall. . . . Kelly has used a careful analysis of many of John's writings and sermons to present new insights and to confirm details of Chrysostom's life previously considered doubtful; his comments and summaries stimulate one to turn to the originals. Those who are interested in Chrysostom or in this historical period must read this book." Catholic Historical Review "A rewarding . . . read as well as a rich mine of historical information. . . . The book] is peppered with new, revisionist insights about . . . Chrysostom's life." Bryn Mawr Classical Review"A monumental achievement, which examines with fairness and thoroughness both the primary sources and continuing scholarship on John and his often-stormy episcopacy in Constantinople." Christian Century"

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Item Specifications...

Studio: Cornell University Press
Pages   310
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 9.04" Width: 6.02" Height: 0.77"
Weight:   1 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Dec 21, 2010
Publisher   Cornell University Press
ISBN  0801485738  
ISBN13  9780801485732  

Availability  82 units.
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More About J. N. D. Kelly

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J. N. D. Kelly was a former principal of St Edmund Hall, Oxford, and a Fellow of the British Academy.
Michael Walsh has written extensively on the history of the Church.

J. N. D. Kelly has published or released items in the following series...
  1. Black's New Testament Commentary (Paperback)

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Product Categories

1Books > Subjects > Biographies & Memoirs > General
2Books > Subjects > Biographies & Memoirs > Historical > General
3Books > Subjects > Biographies & Memoirs > Historical
4Books > Subjects > Biographies & Memoirs > Leaders & Notable People > Religious
5Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Catholicism > Saints

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Reviews - What do customers think about Golden Mouth: The Story of John Chrysostom-Ascetic, Preacher, Bishop?

Decent Survey of Chrysostom's life  Aug 14, 2007
J.N.D. Kelly presents a faithful portrait of the great Bishop of Antioch. He highlights John as a solid expositional preacher who rejected the allegorical method of intepretation as popularized by Origen. You learn of Chrysostom's reservations about being worthy enough to be ordained, and his initial interest in the monastic life.

You also learn of how long periods of harsh fasting ruined his digestive system, and how for this reason, he preferred to eat alone. You learn of the turbulent and divisive times in which he served as a bishop in Antioch and then in Constantinople.

You also read of his strict views about the role of women in the church and of how strict he was with the monastic communities and with the priests in Antioch and later in Constantinople.

Chrysostom's sermons were powerful and held the attention of the people, even though some of them were fairly lengthy. You also learn of his friendship with Olympias, a godly woman also given to virginity and asceticism.

Finally, you learn about Chrysostom's enemies from within Arianism, and from his fellow clergy, especially Severinus, Eudoxia, Theophilus, and others.

We see that Chrysostom's spicy sermons sometimes got him into trouble, ie. exile.

We also read of his sad death.

The book is occasionally bogged down in historical minutiae, but I thought Kelly did a good job of showing how Chrysostom was affected by the times in which he lived and how he himself affected the times. I also appreciated how Kelly was able to defend the historical reliability of much of the material that we have about Chrysostom from that time period. A very good book.
Another Kelly Scholarly Historical Account  Oct 24, 2006
Kelly is easily recognized as our time's authority on early church matters. Here in similar fashion as his worthy work on Jerome he tackles Chrysostom.

He breaks it down nicely into three major components of his life: ascetic, preacher, bishop.

The politics of the church and interaction with secular authorities dominate his life, as it does most. John certainly had his prinicples and he chose not to break them. It got him into disfavor with many, thus cumulating at the end in action taken against him. That easily summarizes his end, the buildup of resentment and hatred catches up.

He certainly exhibited a passion for the underpriviledged and sick and devoted his preaching and resources to this. His ascetic beginning permeated this and fueled much of his preacher/bishop energies. This will bring enemy retaliation.
John Chrysostom reviewed  Jul 21, 2006
A comprehensive treatment of this Eastern Father of the Church. We have not had a study like that of J. N. D. Kelly, unless you count the originally German 2 vol study of C. Baur, translated in 1959. An eminent historian writes about an eminent (and tragic?) personality of the late fourth and early fifth century. Kelly succeeds in making real the (imperial and episcopal) politics of the early 5th century. In addition there is enough of the theology of the time which will influence later christological developments.
Tragic Story of a Non-vindicated Bishop and Heroic Rhetor  Oct 7, 2005

"John's career ended in failure. ... The tragic episcopate of John Chrysostom opened the struggle of supremacy in the East..." W.H.C. Frend

John Chrysostom:

Recognized to be among the most powerful orators of the ancient world, John Chrysostom was the most prolific of the Fathers, leaving us with many sermons, letters, treatises and apologetic works. He was an incredible speaker whose sermons often moved his audience to tears or applause.

"Although not a formal polemicist, John Chrysostom influenced Christian thought notably. He wrote brilliant homilies, interpreting the Bible literally and historically rather than allegorically. His accomplishments as a preacher and theologian are marred by a virulent anti-Semitism." (The Columbia Encyclopedia, Sixth Edition. Copyright © 2001-05)

J.C., Golden Mouth:

The Principal of Oxford's St. Edmund Hall, described his book as, 'the Story of J.C.,' defining his selected offices as, 'Ascetic, Preacher, Bishop.' While the words of Fr. Sydney Griffith, one of the foremost Patristic scholars, are most fitting in the review of this book, I quote and apply them. One does not mean to complain immoderately, nor to appear ungrateful for what is on its own terms a good study of an important topic; nor does one want to review a book the author never intended to write. But here is the place to plead for a broadening of perspective on the part of students of early 'fathers.'

Kelly recomposes the life of John Chrysostom in chronological order from his youth and its ascetic stage for his further development as a preacher. Later his pick as Archbishop of Constantinople and his career therein the capital.

He remained a great orator and a moralist preacher but was socially and politically oriented. Kelly exposed the court politics and John's struggle to be faithful to his cause, by criticizing Empress Eudoxia, and inviting problems with Theophilus, who has consecrated him. John's conflicts led to his condemnation at the Synod of the Oak. John was eventually sent into his final exile, where he died on the way.

Non-vindicated John:

J. Kelly, described by The NY Times as, 'not only a distinguished church historian but also an elegant stylist,' remains for me and many, a reference on early Christian Creeds and Doctrines, in the first place, and expected to bring to the tragic career of the great preaching orator new lights to his thought, and vindicate his patristic literature as; "There is little original in his thought. He preserves throughout the moralizing tendencies of his Antiochene teachers," alleged to him by two great patrologists J. Danielou, and RPC Hanson. Earlier in the same chapter, J.C. is described as the friend of Theodore of Mopsuestia, and pupil of Libanius and of Diodore of Tarsus, and cast heavy shadow on his ethics as more Stoic than Christian! (J. Danielou, Historical Theology, Pelican, 1970, p.107)

A Story, not a Biography:

In his preface, the oxford scholar gives a version of his elaboration on the 79/80 lectures in Oxford devoted to J.C., but were not published because of Kelly's non satisfaction of his own treatment, and few years later, he modified them to chapters 2,3, and 16 of Golden Mouth. The author who explored Chrysostom's teaching on baptism, original sin, grace and free will, redemption, etc., in his classic 'Early Christian Doctrines', would not even quote himself, in reference. At least, John's treatise on the priesthood, which has been popular, though not accepted by mainstream Protestants, could have been given a brief parallel with St. Gregory Nazianzen who inspired John, but spoke in a different theological language.

He concluded, "I should like to have included some tentative presuppositions underlying John's thinking, and certain of his theological ideas which still need clarification. Ultimately he decided to leave this task to 'younger scholars.'

Biographer J. Kelly:

The late Master of ecclesiastics J.N.D. Kelly is the Principal of St. Edmund Hall, Oxford, was Canon of Chichester Cathedral, a Fellow of the British Academy, and since 1966 a member of the Academic Council of the Ecumenical Theological Institute, Jerusalem. He is the author of Early Christian Creeds, Early Christian Doctrines, Jerome, The Oxford Dictionary of Popes, etc.

A good book that occasionally gets bogged down  Jun 18, 2003
This book is a very serviceable biography of John Chrysostom, the most famous preacher of the ancient church. It chronicles the entirety of John's life, from the monasticism of his youth, to his subsequent tenure as a priest in Antioch, his bishopric in the imperial capitol, and the quarrels with the bishop of Alexandria and the empress that eventually brought about his downfall.

Kelly does an excellent job of showing John's character. We get to see that those things which in some ways were the best of John's traits, his forthrightness and lack of fear, were the very things which due to his intemperate nature led him into conflict with those who were easily made jealous and those who did not care for their misdeeds to be honestly spoken of.

There is, however, one serious flaw in this book. Kelly seems undecided about who his audience is. He alternates between gripping narration and lengthy passages (sometimes several pages in length) wherein he dissects the arguments for and against the authenticity of a particular sermon of John's or the dating of one of his writings. In my opinion, the book would have been strengthened had Kelly simply based the main text on what he believes to be correct, and moved the disputation either to end notes or to an appendix.


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